The Colombian Geological Service (SGC) detected an increase in seismic activity at Nevado del Ruiz, located in the Tolima department, Colombia, during last Sunday afternoon. This event has sparked interest in the region due to the volcano’s history and location.
The SGC’s report indicates that the increased seismicity is linked to heightened rock fracturing activity in the volcano’s eastern sector, approximately 5 km from the Arenas crater. These earthquakes, reaching a maximum magnitude of 2.5, have occurred at depths of 3 to 4 km.
A New Alert in Colombia
Although the number of earthquakes has been relatively low, some of these seismic movements have been perceived by residents in nearby areas such as La Cabaña and the Lagunilla River canyon, in the Tolima department, as reported in the bulletin issued by the SGC.
Likewise, seismic activity associated with the lava dome located at the bottom of the crater has been reported, showing a significant increase in its energy level. The earthquakes, classified as low to moderate energy, intensified from Sunday night until Monday morning, linked to both rock fracturing and fluid dynamics, as specified in the official report.
Despite these events, the Geological Service has maintained the alert level at yellow, indicative of a “warning of threat activation”. The Yellow Alert reflects the volatility and inherent instability of the volcano, as it could rapidly destabilize at any moment, leading to an escalation of the alert level to orange, indicating a potential eruption within days or weeks, or even to red, signaling an imminent or ongoing major eruption.
History of Eruptions
This volcano, part of the volcanic belt of the Andes, has had three massive eruptions in recent history, causing human losses and considerable damage.
On March 12, 1595, three Plinian eruptions of Nevado del Ruiz emitted large volumes of volcanic gas and triggered an avalanche that claimed the lives of 636 people from the indigenous Guali community.
In February 1845, an earthquake caused a mudflow that affected an extensive area, claiming the lives of about a thousand people and causing considerable damage.
The most devastating event occurred on November 13, 1985, when an eruption of the volcano led to the collapse of the municipality of Armero in Tolima, claiming the lives of between 23,000 and 25,000 people, marking one of the most tragic chapters in Colombian history.
The recent uptick in volcanic activity has reignited concerns, underscoring the need for continuous monitoring. Authorities in Colombia are vigilantly observing the volcano, prioritizing the safety of surrounding communities. The evolving situation at Nevado del Ruiz highlights the critical need for ongoing vigilance in the face of such unpredictable natural phenomena